Is God Irrelevant?

This Spring Break I went on an incredible hiking trip (which I could probably dedicate at least ten posts to…more on that later.)  One of the blessings on the trip was meeting some people…one of whom wrote this article.  Matt is a sophomore at Emporia State University and he’s studying sociology. 

About a month ago, I read an article in the ESU Bulletin written by a student entitled; “Change in Religion.” As I read it I found that it was not a particularly joyful or necessarily exciting article to read. The author simply claimed that the people of this world no longer rely on God to fulfill their daily needs, such as food or water, or to get them out of horrific situations, such as slavery or poverty.

Whereas the author did agree with the morals of the Christian faith, he no longer felt it was necessary to pray, attend church or even to believe in God for that matter. Simply put, he believed God was irrelevant to today’s world. While I strongly disagreed with this article, it did get my attention by making it clear to me that some of us may not understand why we worship God in the first place.

You might be wondering why we should even believe in God to begin with. It does seem silly, does it not? The idea of an all mighty being in the clouds watching over us, especially with all of the scientific evidence we have of the Big Bang theory and natural selection. To answer this question I turn to one of my favorite writers, Christian apologetic, Peter Kreeft.

In Kreeft’s article, “The Reasons to Believe,” he claims that, “where there is design there must be a designer.” Ultimately he explains that if you were to find a deserted island with “S.O.S” written in the sand, you would not think the letters came out of nowhere. You would not think that the waves washed up onto the sand and left the message behind. No, because of logic and reason you would know that someone, a “designer,” created the message. 

The same goes for the entire universe; where 
there is creation, there must be a creator. Now you might say “well that is great and all, but what about all that scientific evidence we now have?” It is not my intention to tell you that everything in your biology textbook is nonsense, or that the Big Bang never happened. My goal however is to persuade you to have faith that, if it were to happen this way, that it was God driven. This is the way the designer chose to design his creation.

I would assume someone reading this is thinking, “even if God is real, I already have all the things I need; food, clothing, shelter, and money. I am happy with my life already, why would I need to pray or continuously attend a church?” With this kind of thinking, you fall into the same trap as the author of “Change in Religion.”

You see, God is not just a good luck charm or a lucky rabbit’s foot that we call upon when things are not going so well for us. God is our creator, our friend, our heavenly father, and the entire reason for our existence. For all of these things, we should be grateful and therefore desire a personal relationship with him.

Compare this to a relationship with a friend, a family member, or maybe a boyfriend or girlfriend. You get to know these people by talking to them, learning more about them and spending time with them. The same can be said about God. You get to know God by talking to him and spending time with him through prayer and worship. In order to have a relationship with God you must put in the time and effort just like any other relationship.

Whether or not you believe in the same God as I do, is not important for the sake of this article. What is important to take away from this is that science alone can never explain all that this world is or how we got here. The only explanation we have for all of this is God as our designer and creator. Also, God is not just there to take care of our earthly needs. He is there to guide us closer to him so that we can obtain the personal relationship with him that should be desirable for us all.

God is still very much present and relevant to this world, and I will leave it at that.

Christ’s Wedding Day

Good Friday.  The day we set aside once a year to commemorate the death of Our Lord for our sins and the opening of the gates of Heaven for our salvation. We remember God, who took on human nature and all of it’s messiness in order to spend eternity with us, His beloved children, and His beloved bride, The Church.

What if we thought of Good Friday as a a wedding feast in conjunction with Christ’s sacrificial love?  In his book, Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, Brant Pitre examines the actual event of the crucifixion in the light of historical Jewish wedding.  He places Christ as the Heavenly bridegroom and the Church as His eternal bride.
In an earlier post, I wrote about how Christ yearns to be intimate with us, emptying Himself into something so simple as bread and wine so that He can physically be within our very bodies.  In Mass tonight, the Homily focused on Christ’s desire for us to know God – to be intimate with Him.  Not just to know about Him, but to really know Him as the most important thing in our lives. 
In Biblical terms, the phrase “to know” indicates a physical relationship, or an absolute knowledge of the other. The Hebrew word is “Yada.”  John  W. Ritenbaugh in his study of the old testament Hebrew language wrote, 

“At times, the Bible uses “to know” as a euphemism for sexual intimacy. Paul is not saying here [in Philippians 3:8-10] that he desires sexual intimacy with Christ, but that he greatly desires spiritual intimacy with Him. He wants to be so close to Him that he experiences the same level of life as Jesus did—even to the point of suffering or dying as He died, if that is necessary to be made like Him in every possible way. He desires to glorify God in every aspect of his life just as Jesus did.”

 In Joshua 23:14, Joshua gathers the people to tell them about their relationship with the Lord.  “Behold this day I am going into the way of all the earth, and you shall know with all your mind that of all the words which the Lord promised to perform for you, not one hath failed. ” 

In Luke 1:34, Mary’s eternal virginity is emphasized with her lack of previous intimacy and full knowledge with any man. “And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?

Christ desires to be intimate with us.  To have absolute knowledge of us.  In John 17:3-4, He prays to the Father before His passion. “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.  I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.”  
And what is more physical than Christ’s passion and death for our salvation?  He is betrayed with a kiss from a close follower, and then goes through the most physically excruciating death imaginable for a person in the fist century.  He is covered in His own blood, the physical life of His body (and the spiritual life of ours), and drags a wooden beam through streets crowded with the jeering of the souls He is on His way to die to save.  His body is fastened and hoisted in the sky, where He physically must thrust Himself up to fill His lungs. 
All the while, He thinks of you.
And when the crowds yell at Him to come down from the cross and prove that He is God, He thinks of you.  “I can’t come down from the cross.  I have to stay up here for (insert your name) because one day, even if it’s over two thousand years in the future, they are going to need me.  And how can I teach them of the beauty of suffering if I give up now?”  
And then, “It is finished.”  There is a spear thrust into His heart that is so full of overflowing love for our soul despite how much pain we have caused Him that blood and water flow from His side.
Brant Pitre points out the significance of this final physical aspect of Christ’s death. “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept he took out one of his side (Greek pleura) and closed up its place with the flesh; and the rib which the Lord had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to man….so too Jesus falls into the sleep of death, and blood and water flow from his side (Greek pleura) And just as the miraculous creation of the first bride from the side of Adam is the foundation of marriage of man and woman, so the miraculous flow of blood and water from the side of Jesus is the origin and foundation of the marriage of Christ and the Church.”
So Christ pours out His very life on the altar of the Cross on Good Friday, that supposedly dark day that ushered in the redemption of our souls from a debt that we could never pay off.  And the Catholic Mass taps into the eternal sacrifice at Calvary.

 In The Faith of Millions, John A. O’Brien said, “The Mass is the renewal and perpetuation of the sacrifice of the cross in the sense that it offers [Jesus] anew to God . . . and thus commemorates the sacrifice of the cross, reenacts it symbolically and mystically, and applies the fruits of Christ’s death upon the cross to individual human souls. All the efficacy of the Mass is derived, therefore, from the sacrifice of Calvary.”

What will your wedding gift to Christ be?  A Sunday morning hour when convenient for you? He sacrificed His entire life for you…are you willing to do the same for him?